One year ago, I watched my beloved town close down. Like everyone else, I thought it would be temporary. Like everyone else, I was worried for my family and the people I loved. Like everyone else, I had no idea what to expect.
A year ago, I couldn’t fathom the idea that we all would be spending a whole year figuring out a new way to do the things that we’ve always taken for granted. How would we do our work? How would we be with our friends? How would we take care of our kids?
Two fire pits and a case of hand sanitizer later, I have learned a lot. I’ve learned that you can get homes inspected without touching anything and that you can do closings from separate cars in parking lots. But the most powerful lesson I’ve learned is how much a community can truly pull together in a time of great unrest.
I want to commemorate this “anniversary” by sharing some of the things that have moved me over this year.
I remember there was a local woman who collected donations from residents in order to pay a restaurant to make dinner for all the healthcare workers. It was a great way to be able to support the restaurants and the local hospital in those early, unrelenting weeks.
Local social media pages sprung up where people could crowd-source up-to-the-minute information on everything from Lysol Wipes to testing sites to which restaurants were offering easy, affordable family meals for curbside pick-up.
I loved seeing how exercise studios and other group gatherings figured out how to make it work outdoors. How DFit erected a huge canopy in the parking lot and blasted workout music so loudly you could hear it across the train tracks. I loved seeing yoga classes in Anderson Park and the senior group’s knitting circle set up near Edgemont Pond.
We had protests and marches in ways that kept people safe, and still heard.
I loved reading about kids making masks, and creating a program where teens were matched up with seniors and wrote them notes and letters while they were all alone. A group of kids launched Montclair’s first skate park in the early days of the pandemic. Others painted hopeful messages on rocks and placed them all over town.
I’m so proud of how this community was able to provide for each other.
I remember a year ago, walking down Parkway and right in front of my old house (coincidentally), someone had chalk-written across the road in big, hopeful letters: We Got This!
One year later, I have to say: We really did.